Sunday, 2/28/10

BG 8:31
Reagle 7:57
NYT 7:49
LAT 7:40
CS 4:43

Short write-ups tonight because I’m making dinner and want to blog four puzzles tonight because I won’t have time in the morning. Eep!

Yaakov Bendavid’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 3The theme—mostly familiar phrases in which EA words are changed to sound-alike EE words with different meanings—didn’t much grab me. Here are the feetured octet:

  • 22A. [Inappropriate on a honeymoon] clues NOT FOR THE WEEK OF HEART.
  • 36A. AROMATIC TEE is clued as [Item at a golf boutique?]. I don’t feel that “aromatic tea” is a strong base phrase, and I can’t quite imagine what an AROMATIC TEE would be. Maybe including cedar in the clue would’ve helped.
  • 55A. PEEK SEASON is [Summer next door to the nudist camp?]. Except “peeking season” sounds like a better descriptor than “peek season,” and SEASON has an unchanged EA with a long E sound.
  • 71A. [What a pursued perp might do?] is FLEE COLLAR. Now, you can evade arrest, but “collar” without an article sounds incomplete.
  • 90A. A TIME TO HEEL is clued as [The point when Fido's master starts walking?]. This works well.
  • 103A. [Bit of advice when packing anglers' lunches?] is that REEL MEN DON’T EAT QUICHE.
  • 15D. “FRANKLY, MY DEER” is a [Buck's candid conversation opener?]. I like this one.
  • 54D. HAMBURGER MEET feels awkwardly worded, too. Who would call a dating service a “meet”? The clue is [Dating service in a northern German city?].

Shouldn’t there be a comma in the clue for 32D, ["There there"]/IT’S OK?

A few clues and answers to eyeball:

  • 40A. FRED ALLEN is the ["Imitation is the sincerest form of television" quipster]. Too bad so many of TV’s imitations are  lousy, huh?
  • 45A. OVA are clued as [Sperm targets]. Well, that’s candid.
  • 60A. I never even really read this clue, thanks to getting all the crossings. CENTS are [Things often put in in twos]—as in “let me put my two cents in here.”
  • 65A. [Develops an open spot?]  isn’t about real estate development, it’s about hair loss: BALDS.
  • 77A. Crosswordese river trivia: The YSER is a [River deliberately flooded in W.W. I].
  • 87A. You don’t see CAMELEERS often in the crossword. They’re [Desert drivers], but not the kind you see in the Dakar Rally.
  • 96A. EASTON, Pennsylvania, is a [Town near Bethlehem]. Admit it: You were waiting for crossings to reveal an Israeli town, weren’t you? I know I was.
  • 7D. [Zero-star restaurant review?] is “UGH.”
  • 8D. I learned a little about [Baseballer and O.S.S. spy Berg], MOE Berg, at the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Cool story. Google it if you don’t know it.
  • 24D. WALES is a [Land with a red dragon on its flag]. I was thinking Asia myself.
  • 63D. [Los ___ Reyes Magos]/TRES are, I think, the Three Wise Men in Spanish. Either that, or the Three Wizard Kings. Anyone?
  • 80D. [Thumb's middle?] is a SHORT U sound and not a knuckle.

All right, supper time. More puzzles later.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “‘Idle’ Thoughts”

Region capture 2It’s a quip theme, but swaths of the quip could be filled in quickly owing to familiarity, and the overall clueing level was on the easier end of the spectrum. The quip begins at 27A: [Start of a quip about Southern California], and sprawls out from there: THE OLD QUESTION GOES / “WHY DO WE DRIVE ON / A PARKWAY AND PARK/ ON A DRIVEWAY?” / IN LOS ANGELES, THE / ANSWER IS, “WE DON’T. / WE PARK ON THE FREEWAY.” As Will Shortz once told me, the trouble with quip themes is that you only get one “aha” moment—whereas the typical Merl puzzle serves up 8 to 12 “ahas.

Five trivia clues:

  • 54D. [Mob-probing senator of the 1950s] is Estes KEFAUVER, whom I forgot this morning when blogging about famous ESTES possibilities in crosswords.
  • 34D. Dom DELUISE is an [Actor in many Brooks comedies]. I had James Brooks and Albert Brooks dislodging Mel Brooks from my mind. Which movies was Dom in? My husband says, “Blazing Saddles….Blazing Saddles.” IMDb tells me also History of the World: Part I and Silent Movie.
  • 1A. [What "mark twain" refers to] is DEPTH. The Mark Twain Museum explains, “On the river, the depth of the water was vitally important. A mark was the same as a fathom on the sea or six feet. Twain means two. If the man checking the depth called out ‘Mark Twain,’ it meant a depth of twelve feet, safe for riverboats of the day.”
  • 26A. LA PAZ, Bolivia, is a [City near Lake Titicaca]. Every English speaker giggles when saying that lake name, right?
  • 56A. The spelled-out numeral convention of crosswords rears its head here. [Apartment number in a long-running comic strip] is THREE-G. You can read about Apartment 3-G at the Comics Curmudgeon blog.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe crossword (in Across Lite delay), “Freeze Frames”

Region capture 6By inserting ICE into assorted phrases, those phrases are “freeze frames.” This particular theme didn’t captivate me. The 10 theme entries:

  • 23A. MALICE DE MER is [Meanness of the sea?], playing on mal de mer, or seasickness. I’ve been troubled more by landsickness after a cruise than by seasickness.
  • 25A. BUG OFFICE, [Wiretapping agency?].
  • 36A. CANDY CORNICE, [Gingerbread house ornament?]. Good one. Who doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with candy corn?
  • 55A. ALICE DENTE, [Cooked Wonderland-style]. Alice-tooth? Not a fan of this one.
  • 63A. [Dear John letter?] clues FORGET-ME-NOTICE. Ah, well done.
  • 73A. [Kin to lab rats?] clues COLLEGE DORMICE. Why are lab and college linked here? Just because college science buildings have laboratories?
  • 84A. [Squeezing as a martial art?], JUICEJITSU. Wait, that…doesn’t mean anything.
  • 96A. [Caveman orator?] clues CICERO-MAGNON.
  • 116A. VOICE TECH, [Audio engineer?]. Playing on vo-tech, short for vocational technology.
  • 118A. I couldn’t understand RICE AND DICE‘s base phrase at first. Was this [Food-processing method?] building on RICE AND D? Of course not: it’s R&D.

11D: ROBYN is clued as a [Swedish pop mononym]. Apparently I am not well-versed in my one-named Swedish pop stars. 5D: [Land loved by poets] refused to be finished for the longest time. I wanted ARCADIA but the answer is 6 letters long: ARCADY. That’s in the dictionary as a poetic/literary word meaning “a rustic paradise.” You can have your Arcady—leave me in the city, please.

Peter Wentz’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Gross Income”

Region capture 5This is basically the same theme the Boston Globe puzzle has, only with ICK (the “gross” of “Gross Income”) added instead of ICE. The theme entries:

  • 22A. [Martial artist's autobiography?] is THE KICKING AND I.
  • 37A. The red carpet turns into RED CAR PICKET, or [Protest against fiery roadsters?]. This answer strains a bit. “Red car picket” doesn’t sound at all natural.
  • 57A. A [Really cool security device?] is a WICKED LOCK, playing on wedlock. Excellent play.
  • 78A. [Price tag in the meat department?] clues HAM STICKER.
  • 93A. [Communication from perverts?] clues SICKOS’ SIGNAL. Wait, why isn’t this singular SICKO’S? How many perverts do we need here?
  • 113A. [Competition for greased-up pooches?] is a SLICKED DOG RACE.
  • 16D. PICKLED THE FIFTH is clued with [Preserved a liquor bottle?]. I like to think it was pickled in BRINE (75A: [Curing solution]). See also 21A: RELISH ([Savor]), rounding out the pickle zone.
  • 44D. Crosswordese’s Tet Offensive is built into TICKET OFFENSIVE, or [Aggressive policy to increase box office sales?]. The answer would seem to correspond better to something like [Aggressive use of video monitoring to increase red-light fines], wouldn’t it?

And now, a handful of other clues and answers:

  • 46A. An ODE is an [Emotional work]. A few clues earlier is [Neruda works] for POEMS, explaining why “poem” is not in ODE’s clue.
  • 49A. [Madden coached them in the '70s] clues the RAIDERS.
  • 84A. Yes, BLINTZE is an accepted spelling for the [Jewish pancake] I know better as a blintz. Speaking of which…there was a guy on CNN today named Jim Hewish, and the spoonerism leapt off the screen at me.
  • 2D. [Doff a bowler] clues UNHAT. To me, “unhat” sounds like what someone does when they aggressively knock the hat off your head, but the word’s in the dictionary meaning to remove one’s hat as a sign of respect.
  • 18D. [Hipster's accessory] is SHADES? Are the hipsters of today known for their propensity to don sunglasses?
  • 62D. [Old school add-on?] is MARM, as in “schoolmarm.”

Bob Klahn’s Washington Post/CrosSynergy crossword, “Sunday Challenge”

Region capture 7My favorite Klahn puzzles are his wickedly hard Saturday NYT themelesses. Why? Because he can indulge his natural instinct for really tough clues there, but he reins himself in on his CrosSynergy puzzles. That said, I still dig his clueing style, which seems to come from the uncharted wilderness sometimes. And I appreciate that his “Sunday Challenge” puzzles are a good 50% to 75% tougher than his fellow CrosSynergists’ themelesses.

And now, 20 of the 70 clues:

  • 16A. [Offstring diabolo trick named for a tiny jumper] is FLEA BOUNCE. Are you up on your yo-yo tricks? I am not. “Tiny jumper” gave me 40% of the answer.
  • 18A. LANTERN JAW is clued [It gives the face a lean, gaunt appearance]. I could swear people have described Jay Leno as lantern-jawed, but he ain’t a [Gaunt guy], or SCRAG (31A).
  • 21A. The MEUSE is the [River that once formed the western border of the Holy Roman Empire]. A clue like [French-sounding river] is the sort of clue that would have worked for me here. Not up on my Meuse trivia, no, sirree.
  • 27A. [Pearls that are safe to put away?], or eat, are ONIONS.
  • 32A. BRAHMA is [A lot of bull!] Not sure why “a lot of” is in the clue.
  • 38A. Bob likes his alliteration: [Vitriolic volley] clues a TIRADE.
  • 39A. Crosswordese! An IMMIE is an [Ersatz aggie, in marbles]. “Immie” is short for “imitation.”
  • 40A. [Low do, e.g.] is a low musical note “do,” not a low hairdo: a BASS NOTE.
  • 45A. [Sixes by elevens (abbr.)] clues TDS. Touchdowns are 6-point plays by 11-player football teams. At least, I think that’s what the clue is getting at.
  • 57A. Nice clue for LITERATURE: ["___ is news that stays news" (Ezra Pound)].
  • 59A. I don’t know why [Block tackler] is a STONEMASON. Oh, wait, now I get it: a mason handles, or “tackles,” bricks and stone “blocks.” No football here.
  • 1D. Hah! [Eunuch's unit] is not what you may be thinking of. The ODA is the harem’s room that is his job posting.
  • 2D. [Like Trent Reznor's "Nails"?] clues NINE-INCH. I don’t care for this fill at all. FOOT-LONG is a thing but NINE-INCH is not. Feels like an 8-letter partial, really.
  • 10D. NORMAN MAILER is the [Cofounder of The Village Voice].
  • 14D. [Flight support?] clues the NEWELS that support staircase handrails or, in a spiral staircase, are the central support post. If the latter meaning is meant, then the clue needs to be plural. The handrail support meaning is the one most commonly seen in crosswords.
  • 36D. A NIHILIST is the [Ultimate nonbeliever].
  • 41D. AU LAIT is a [French menu phrase that sounds like an accolade, "Olé!"
  • 51D. An EAVE is a [Homeowner's hangover?].
  • 56D. [It'll be hot for awhile] clues a FAD.
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6 Responses to Sunday, 2/28/10

  1. Jan (danjan) says:

    EASTON was a gimme for me, since I went to Lafayette College. Always happy to see it in a puzzle. Always careful to pronounce it well so people don’t ask, “where in *Eastern* Pennsylvania?” Or, (West) Lafayette, isn’t that where Purdue is?

  2. Sam Donaldson says:

    At first I too felt underwhelmed by the NYT. But the smooth, open grid and the reference to Octo-Mom in the SE made me happy. So I guess I’m whelmed.

  3. Angela says:

    I got stuck on the very last lower left corner – “Reel men dont eat quiche” I kept trying to fit “Reel men don’t eat sushi”, even giving “sushi” different spellings. I didn’t know the answer to 91 down, so while I finished the entire puzzle without a problem, I went to bed wondering why I couldn’t make sense of that last entry. (In NYC we get the NYT mag. secion on Saturday). Live and learn!

  4. Jan (danjan) says:

    The latest crossword book I’m enjoying is “The Wrath of Klahn Crosswords”, so having as CS Klahn today was a bonus. I found the NINE-INCH Nails clue humorous, and yay, I knew a pop culture reference, so didn’t mind the partial at all.

  5. Jan says:

    I usually love Klahn puzzles, but the CS was WAY too hard for me. I put in three short words and had to give up. The first time that’s happened in quite a while.

  6. bob says:

    2D. [Like Trent Reznor's "Nails"?] clues NINE-INCH. I don’t care for this fill at all. FOOT-LONG is a thing but NINE-INCH is not. Feels like an 8-letter partial, really.

    Nine Inch Nails is an American industrial rock project, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio.

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